Sierra Leone 2003

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mbfitzmahan. Gold earrings. Sierra Leone, 2003.

This young girl picked ground nuts.

She smiled shyly as I took her photo.  I was happy to see smiles amongst all the tears.

I worked in Sierra Leone a year after the end of the 11 year civil war (1991-2002).  50,000 people were killed.  I was hired by the Sierra Leone TRUTH and RECONCILIATION COMMISSION to write the history of the civil war.

I met a 20 year old boy.  He didn’t have any hands.   I don’t know how many people lost their arms and legs during the war.  The villagers were forced to line up,  and the rebel soldiers chopped off limbs, one by one.  “Go back and tell that government of yours that you will never again use your hands to vote for their corrupt government.”

Many, many more people were left homeless, without families.  In many villages and towns, all sense of family was destroyed.  Young girls were wrenched from their families, and forced to become ‘brides’ to rebel leaders.  Fathers were killed, boys were drafted into rebel forces.  Old women were killed.

Innocence destroyed.

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